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H2020

CHIBOW Report Summary

Project ID: 642571
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CHIBOW (Children Born of War - Past, Present and Future)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2017-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

As described forcefully by consecutive Special Representatives of the UN Secretary General (UNSRSG) for Children Armed Conflict, the physical and psychosocial impact of armed conflict on children is immense. This is true for all children directly and indirectly affected by hostilities, but the impact is particularly pervasive, if children are associated with the enemy.

The EU acknowledges that at any one given time, at least 300,000 children are participating in armed conflict globally. Studies have further documented the physical and psychosocial impact of armed conflict on children within armed groups as well as during post-conflict situations; and particularly so, if children are perceived to be associated with the enemy – however the enemy may be defined. Yet some significant aspects of this phenomenon have not been addressed in research leading to very considerable personal and societal costs. Researchers and practitioners generally agree that social, economic and political aspects of reintegration are inextricably linked. Overwhelming evidence suggests that CBOW, not only those who are born as a result of systematic rape and forced pregnancies by enemy soldiers but also children born as a result of consensual relations, have been and continue to be a major obstacle to successful integration of both their mothers and themselves into post-conflict societies.

The overall research aim of the CHIBOW project is to improve understanding of the experiences, life courses, educational, social, health outcomes of CBOW relative to their age cohorts in conflict and post-conflict situations through the development of a broader and more advanced knowledge base. By linking historical and anthropological understanding with psychological and psychotherapeutic approaches within an intersectoral setting that directly addresses the translation of research outcomes into strategic programming, this research is both original and innovative. It will aid directly the development of strategies leading to more sustainable solutions to the problem of integration of children fathered by foreign soldiers, or those who have been the result of relationships or gender-based violence rooted in war, into their local communities. Equally significantly for the individuals themselves, it is envisaged that on the basis of a better understanding of the factors contributing to the marginalisation of CBOW more specific intervention at local level will aid the prevention of trauma associated with stigmatization and identity issues experienced by large groups of CBOW and thus mitigate the adverse effect of the children’s biological origin.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Organised into six Work Packages (WPs), CHIBOW comprises four scientific WPs that pursue the network’s research objectives thematically: Experiences of children born of war in the historical context (1); conflict and memory (2); education and citizenship (3); and Community (4). The final two WPs (5 & 6) comprise the administrative and impact elements of the network’s objectives.

In WP 1 (historical context) objectives have been delivered through training in historical methods via Advanced Training Courses (ATC) 2 & 5; through project-specific implementation of research aims of eight Early Stages Researchers (ESRs); and through encouragement of supplementary training and networking activities organized by and for the ESRs. A significant finding for ESRs participating in WP1 is evidence of a number of important differentiating factors between research being undertaken in western Europe and that being undertaken in Central and Eastern Europe, pointing to a much more significant ‘wall of silence’ in operation in Central and Eastern Europe, than that in Western Europe.

WP 2 (conflict and memory) objectives are being delivered through training in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, underpinned by modules on stigma, trauma and childhood adversities and psychosocial interventions (ATCs 1, 3 and 4); through project-specific implementation of research aims of three ESRs; and through encouragement of supplementary training activities arising out of specific secondments with psychosocial emphasis and trauma treatment emphasis.

WP 3 (education and citizenship) objectives have been delivered through training in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, underpinned by modules on stigma, trauma and childhood adversities and psychosocial interventions (ATCs 1, 4 and 5); through project-specific implementation of research aims of four ESRs; and through specific secondments with educational and civil society third sector partners. Significantly, work conducted so far in WP3, challenges some assumptions about the progress of 20th century developments with regard to children’s rights. The notion of the 20th century as the ‘century of the child’ encouraged the view that children’s rights were not only universally subscribed to, but also universally adhered to – a notion that is queried by research in WP3.

WP 4 (community) objectives are being delivered through training in the social contextualization of the CBOW experiences and social science research training (ATC1, ATC 4); through project-specific implementation of research aims of four ESRs and through specific secondments with third sector partners focusing on humanitarian intervention and development consultancy. Specifically ESRs are investigating the use of citizenship in post-conflict reconstruction by exploring how local, regional and national governments use such constructs of citizenship following conflict and by examining how CBOW relate to such narratives, which often contradict their day-to-day experiences of alienation and exclusion.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

While most ESRs are only now approaching the half-way mark of their projects, research has already led to progress beyond the state of the art. Many ESRs have developed sophisticated theoretical frameworks of analysis, have adapted or developed new qualitative and quantitative instruments and have unearthed new significant new source material, such as the sources discovered in underused central and East European archives or entirely novel legal sources found in the research for the Sino-Japanese case study.

Public engagement and non-academic impact have been a central concern of the network from its inception. The participation of the entire network in the interdisciplinary and intersectoral ‘Child and War’ Conference in June 2016 and the Network Open Day organised in conjunction with this large meeting initiated significant third-sector engagement for the researchers. Furthermore, the sustained collaboration with our partners in Sub-Saharan Africa has led to impactful engagement of the ESRs ranging from teaching activities in local universities to knowledge exchange with grassroots NGOs, from work with advocacy organisations to capacity building for local African research assistants.

ATC6 with its focus on academic and non-academic dissemination will lead to a step-change in public engagement and impact activities with exhibition planning, film-making and social media training taking up a substantial part of the impact-focussed part of the ATC.

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